Herald Journal Columns
Aug. 8, 2005, Herald Journal

Laughter is the best medicine

By LIZ HELLMANN

“Honey, you won’t believe the day I had at work.”

(Don’t worry, I’ve exhausted my waitressing story from the previous columns, and am moving on. I hope you enjoyed it.)

A girl plops down on the couch next to her boyfriend and continues.

“But let’s not talk about that. What do you want to do for our anniversary?” she asks.

“Whatever you want to do is fine with me,” he mumbles, his eyes glued to the same Sports Center program he watched last night.

“Good, because I already got tickets to the Icecapades, and after that, we can go to that little Italian bistro for dinner. I heard they are having live entertainment this Friday,” she replies.

After several seconds pass, her words have managed to sink their way into her boyfriend’s head, along with this week’s batting statistics of David Ortiz.

He leaps up.

“Wait a minute! The game is on Friday! We can’t go then,” he protests.

“The game is on every day,” she says. “It’s baseball season. If we planned our schedule around that, we would do nothing but watch baseball.”

“Exactly.”

“I don’t care if the World Series is on, it’s our anniversary, and we’re celebrating,” she says.

“I don’t see why we can’t just do it a different day. It’s not like the one-month anniversary of the first time we bought ice cream together counts as a real anniversary.”

“Well, it was special to me, and if you don’t care, than maybe we shouldn’t celebrate,” she says.

“Thanks Hun, that would be great,” he turns his head back to the TV, unaffected by her sarcasm.

She stares down at him, giving him the most powerful weapon she has, a weapon women have been using for generations, “the look.”

He remains oblivious, too entranced with the top 10 plays-of-the-week to notice.

Disgusted, she throws up her arms.

“You’re so immature,” she says. And she stomps out of the room.

Has this ever happened to you?

Not this exact story (for your sake, I hope not), but have you ever been accused of being immature?

It’s a common charge brought against many boyfriends, and maybe even husbands.

Similar phrases are uttered by parents everywhere, such as “you’re being immature,” or “start acting your age.”

But little children and males, although they may seem to share several qualities, of which I’m sure many mothers and wives could attest to, are not alone in this accusation.

We have all, I’m sure, been accused of acting immature at some time in our lives. (Even if we profess our innocence to such attacks.)

Being called immature is usually not considered a compliment, but it can have its benefits.

For example, people struggle with problems like high cholesterol and stress every day. These are serious health issues, which warrant attention.

While these things are caused by a myriad of different factors, they can afflict the most mature among us, who could maybe benefit from a lesson or two in immaturity.

Yes, immaturity can benefit us, if done properly.

I’m not suggesting people act like toddlers.

It might look a little silly if city council members began throwing temper tantrums at an open meeting (that’s what the work sessions are for, just kidding), or if a senator sparked a food fight at the inaugural ball.

But the kind of immaturity I’m referring to is the ability to relax, and find the humor in things, including yourself.

As they face the daily grind of life, people are forced to put on many different faces. They must act professionally at work, handle parenting tasks patiently, and converse with friends and neighbors in a socially acceptable manner.

Pressure put on them either by themselves, or outside influences, such as bosses or new acquaintances, reminds them that people are always watching them, and are usually quick to point out their flaws.

Therefore, we tend to feel foolish when we do something silly, whether we garble our words, trip on the imaginary bump in the carpet (who can say they have never done that?), or walk back from the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to the bottom of our shoes.

Of course, there are more extreme cases of embarrassment we all can remember, which I’m sure we all keep locked in a safe place, hoping never to relive again.

But we shouldn’t let these things get to us. Although it might not seem like it at the time, our embarrassing moment was comical, and does not have to be so at our expense.

Therefore, I think it is important for us to be immature once in awhile; that is, to stop taking ourselves so seriously.

Everyone is important, but that doesn’t mean everyone doesn’t do stupid or silly things.

Life would indeed be boring if we never messed up, tripped, or flubbed our words.

Don’t waste such moments by brooding on the imperfections, rather, utilize them by laughing at the quirkiness.

It does not pay to worry what other people will think. If they chose to make fun of someone (which is different than laughing with that person), they are only doing it because they are so afraid of their own insecurities, they must try to put others down.

Laughing is one of the best gifts God has given us. It would be a shame to hamper it just because we are afraid to admit we do not do everything perfectly (a truth everyone knows deep inside, but many people spend a lifetime trying to mask).

Laughing can instantly boost your mood and relieve stress. When there are so many things around us that can cause stress and high cholesterol, among other health problems, why should our attitude be one of them?

It is said “laughter is the best medicine,” and best of all, health savings account or not, everyone can afford this prescription.

So the next time you duff that golf ball at your company’s annual outing, or trip on the carpet in front of a room full of executives, find the humor in being less than perfect.

As for the plight of the early pair, I think they are going to need a little more than a knock-knock joke to save that relationship, but I’m no Dr. Phil.